Design, Education, Social Impact

The Rainforest Solutions Project Wins the 2016 Fuller Challenge

October 5, 2016, New York City – The Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI) is pleased to announce the Winner of the 2016 Fuller Challenge: the Rainforest Solutions Project (RSP), a collaborative effort between three environmental organizations, which played a critical role in developing one of the most extraordinary approaches to conservation, social justice, and indigenous rights in recent memory, resulting in a historically unprecedented multigenerational agreement.

When we launched the Challenge in 2007 we hoped to shed light on extraordinary work that pushes the boundaries of design thinking. The Rainforest Solutions Project is a compelling example of what Fuller saw as the scope of design,” said Elizabeth Thompson, BFI’s Executive Director.

[Design Science is] the effective application of the principles of science to the conscious design of our total environment in order to help make the Earth’s finite resources meet the needs of all humanity without disrupting the ecological processes of the planet.” –R. Buckminster Fuller

RSP is an innovative project of Tides Canada Initiative formed by Greenpeace, Sierra Club British Columbia and (formerly ForestEthics). The decades-long struggle over British Columbia’s enormous coastal rainforests culminated in one of the most extraordinary conservation, social justice, and indigenous rights victories in recent memory: a historic agreement between the region’s First Nations and provincial governments, forest companies and the environmental organizations to conserve and sustainably manage the 15 million acre Great Bear Rainforest, which has the largest expanses of old growth temperate rainforest on the planet. Eighty-five percent of these forests are now legally off-limits to logging.

RSP’s cutting-edge work to collaboratively co-design Ecosystem Based Management in the Great Bear Rainforest is a case study for the paradigm shift required to concurrently respect indigenous rights and conserve the Earth’s lungs, for species, culture and climate, now and for future generations. The design is a working model for healthy interaction between human beings and Spaceship Earth involving larger, longer, and more complex interrelationships.

In a sense, this project does what World Game intended to do. It is a land planning exercise on a massive time and space scale. Selecting the Rainforest Solutions Project as the 2016 Winner is a provocative point in the evolution of the Challenge, as design is being recognized as an integral part of business and society. This model recognizes that human relations dictate how broader systems are being managed, and this is a process for applying comprehensive design thinking to those human relations. It is an exportable strategy that works on the leverage points within a system,” said Bill Browning, Fuller Challenge Review Committee member and member of the board of BFI.

The Rainforest Solutions Project said of their work: “The problems we faced are very common, although the ecosystems and First Nations cultures are unique. The process for the parties to move through conflict to collaboration required alliances and cross-cultural relationships, while holding firm to key principles. This helped us all navigate through complex issues to bring the art of the possible into being at a meaningful scale now and into the future.

The Rainforest Solutions Project team consists of Program Director Dr. Jody Holmes, Program Manager Marlene Cummings and Steering Committee members Valerie Langer (, Eduardo Sousa (Greenpeace), and Jens Wieting (Sierra Club BC).

Further details on the winning proposal as well as a statement from the Fuller Challenge Review Committee can be found here.